This week in video games: the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds team gets grumpy with Fortnite, Phil Spencer gets a promotion, and a wonderful tribute to Satoru Iwata is found inside the Nintendo Switch.
Here’s our round-up of the week’s most important gaming news.
This week in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is the gift that keeps on giving. This week, developer and publisher Bluehole Entertainment distributed a press release detailing their concern over a new battle royale game mode coming to Epic’s Fortnite. In the statement, Chang Han Kim, VP and producer at Bluehole, said:
“After listening to the growing feedback from our community and reviewing the gameplay for ourselves, we are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known. We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press. This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right.”
It’s a curious one this, as PUBG is built on Unreal Engine 4, which is, of course, made by Epic Games. The stance also raises questions over whether you can ‘own’ a video game genre. It’s like Crash Team Racing all over again.
Fortnite goes cross-platform
They say all publicity is good publicity, and it feels like this is definitely something the Fortnite team has taken to heart. The game made more headlines this week when it was discovered that Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players were briefly able to play together online.
Epic worked quickly to fix the ‘configuration issue’, but we can’t help feel that someone, somewhere was making a point. Xbox supremo Phil Spencer seemed happy enough, saying “I would have liked to see them leave it on.”
The Witness comes to iOS
Jonathan Blow’s mind-blowing – and beautifully frustrating – puzzler, The Witness, is out now on iOS. It’s worth playing, but remember, unlike console controllers, iPads don’t like being thrown around the living room.
Also coming to mobile is a big update for Super Mario Run. From September 29th you can look forward to a new mode, new levels, and the addition of Princess Daisy as an unlockable character.
This year’s Tokyo Game Show didn’t bring much in the way of excitement. Sony’s press conference was probably the highlight, with a smattering of news on upcoming games like Earth Defence Force, Monster Hunter World, and Square Enix’s new survival shooter, Left Alive. The best news was the ‘it’s out now’ reveal of Final Fantasy 9 on PlayStation 4.
Check out Eurogamer’s live blog for an amusing rundown of all the announcements.
Monster Hunter World release date
Monster Hunter World was one of the biggest games at TGS 2017, with its own impressive booth – that was booked out within minutes – plus a presence at the Sony stan that demonstrates the importance of the series returning to a PlayStation console. Capcom have confirmed that game will be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 26, 2018.
Destiny 2 sets PS4 sales record
Bungie’s Destiny 2 has set a day one sales record on the PlayStation Store. Exact numbers are not forthcoming, but considering the game only sold half as much as its predecessor at UK retail, the news indicates a preference for the digital format, for this game at least.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite review round-up
A couple of big games dropped last week. Let’s begin with the highly anticipated Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, which received a broadly positive, but slightly muted response.
Gamespot’s Tamoor Hussain – whose review is nicely subtitled ‘An Infinity Gem wrapped in a paper bag’ – echoes the thoughts of many critics by praising the game’s combat, but finding fault with its visual design.
“Much has been made of the visuals and, while it looks much better in motion than it does in still images, overall it’s inconsistent and severely lacking in pizazz.”
Wesley Yin-Poole at Eurogamer also takes the graphics to task, but finds plenty to like in the fighting:
“When you’re in the zone, when you’re jumping all over the place and opening up your opponent with dirty tricks and screen-filling supers, there’s nothing quite like it.”
Darry Husky, writing at IGN, finds the game struggling for identity on a visual and gameplay level:
“It manages to be easily one of the worst and also one of the best fighting games in recent memory all at once. Like its heroes and villains, it’s stuck between two worlds.”
Project Cars 2 review round-up
Also under the critics’ eye this week was Slightly Mad’s Project Cars 2, the latest in this year’s bumper crop of serious racing games.
Luke Reily, writing at IGN, thinks the game takes pole position among its competitors:
“With its refined new handling and piles of race options, Project Cars 2 is about as good as real racing gets right now.’
John Robertson at PCGamesN is effusive in his praise of the development team, and their ability to iterate and improve on the first game:
“The result is one of the finest racing games of all time and one that catapults this franchise into the highest tier of motorsport gaming.”
Phil Spencer promoted
Phil Spencer has done a sterling job since becoming head of Xbox in 2014. His initiatives have restored the Xbox brand with a wealth of gamer-friendly services, and some impressive hardware revisions. So, congratulations are in order on news of Spencer being promoted to the role of Microsoft’s executive vice president of gaming. The position is part of Microsoft’s senior leadership group, and is a well-deserved acknowledgement of his efforts and achievements.
Steam addresses Review Bombing
In an attempt to counter the impact of Review Bombing, Steam has introduced the option to view how a game’s user reviews have changed over time. It’s not a perfect solution, but the problem is evidently a tough nut to crack. Steam’s Alden Kroll details the thought process behind the change in a wide-ranging blog post.
The Iwata tribute inside the Nintendo Switch
When Switch owners found the NES game Golf – and an NES emulator – hidden away in the console firmware, many fans thought it indicted of the existence of the Virtual Console. It turns out to be something far more touching.
The game – and the method to access it – appear to be a tribute to the late Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata. Ars Technica has posted a fascinating breakdown on the efforts to unlock the game.
If you’ve been playing Metroid: Samus Returns on 3DS (My mini review: superb, 4/5) and are looking for another game in the franchise to try, I recommend Jeremy Parish’s excellent series of game-by-game reviews.
More from Thumbsticks
- Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom preview
- Pillars of Eternity – PlayStation 4 review
- Unraveling the traumatic interior spaces of Asemblance
And don’t forget, each week we round-up all of the games coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch and 3DS. Head over to our new releases page for the latest updates.